Mike Montgomery isn’t just another left-hander to fill out the rotation anymore. The rookie starter turned in his finest outing Tuesday night at Safeco Field, a complete-game shutout helped by three hits from Dustin Ackley, as the Mariners pounded Kansas City 7-0 (box score) for their most convincing shutout victory of the season.
For all of Ackley’s heroics (3 for 4 with a fifth-inning homer), the key came when Montgomery pitched his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the first by getting a strikeout and inning-ending double play. The rookie southpaw was teetering in the early innings, but his ability to escape unscathed set the tone.
Montgomery won’t forget this performance for the rest of his career – and not just because he spent five years toiling in the Royals’ farm system before being traded to Tampa Bay in 2011. Three hits, a hit batter and an error on 1B Logan Morrison led to five Kansas City base runners in the first two innings, but Montgomery got out of that jam and never sniffed trouble again. He retired 16 batters at one point. The Royals’ only two runners after the second inning came after an error on SS Brad Miller and a two-out Kendrys Morales single in the ninth. It marked the fourth time in five career starts that Montgomery has held an opponent to two runs or fewer.
Anyone who saw LF Dustin Ackley in the lineup may have done a double-take. The fading regular had fallen so far into exile that his only start in the previous eight games came as a last-minute replacement for 2B Robinson Cano Thursday. But manager Lloyd McClendon saw Ackley’s 6-for-10 career against Kansas City starter Jeremy Guthrie and had a hunch he was due to break out. Ackley did that: Double, single and the two-run, game-breaking homer in the fifth.
“It was a cool experience . . . I felt really confident. After that third inning, a switch flipped, and I really had confidence in all my stuff.” — Montgomery
The shutout was the 15th in Mariners history by a rookie; the most recent was Roenis Elias against Detroit June 1, 2014 . . . DH Nelson Cruz was in the lineup, which came as somewhat of a surprise after he came out in the seventh inning of Monday’s loss with a displaced pelvic bone. Cruz had the bone popped back into place during the game and was back in action Tuesday – albeit as a designated hitter . . . Montgomery spent his first five seasons in the Kansas City organization without getting a cup of coffee. He was traded to Tampa Bay in 2011, and the Rays dealt him to Seattle at the end of spring training for RHP Erasmo Ramirez.
The Mariners’ Roenis Elias (4-4, 3.56 ERA) and Kansas City’s Danny Duffy (2-3, 5.87 ERA) will have a battle of lefties Wednesday night at Safeco Field. Kansas City’s Duffy is making his first start since May 16 and has spent almost a month on the disabled list with tendonitis in his left biceps. Elias has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of his 11 starts since being called up from Triple-A in late April.